Welcome to the first electronic-only issue of Health and Development (H&D). Over thirty years ago, CCHF’s founders recognized the need for Christians working among the poor to exchange ideas and experiences. Since the first issue was published in 1979, H&D has been shepherded by a series of able editors, including Lance Loberg, David Caes, Jerry Stromberg, and, most recently, Steve Noblett.
Almost twenty years ago my wife Lisa and I moved into a pretty rough neighborhood on the west side of Chicago. We didn’t have a great vision or strong sense of calling to the neighborhood, but it made practical sense for us; rent was cheap and we saw value in living where we were already building relationships. There were a few challenges, but in time we bought a house, met our neighbors, and settled into life here.
Shortly after I moved into the upper 9th ward of New Orleans, I was awakened one night by the sound of angry voices from the street outside. The predominant voice was male, with occasional enraged rebuttals from a female voice. I was only able to catch an occasional word and many of those were profane. Irrationally, I feared that this man might somehow be directing his hostility toward me. I spent more than an hour on my knees praying-- for my own safety and for God to bring peace to the man. I was partially praying and partially taking cover from what I feared might end in gunfire. The thought of stepping outside and offering to pray for him, or just sitting on my porch, briefly crossed my mind, but I didn’t rise from my hidden position. Eventually, the voices quieted and I climbed back into bed.
My husband and I moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 2010 from San Antonio. He had finished medical school and was getting reading to begin a residency in family medicine at the county hospital. I had just finished my first year of teaching in the US after spending three years in Latin America. We had moved, married, and begun new jobs within one very full month. We began to get settled, and I contacted Catholic Charities about volunteer service opportunities. An English teacher with a background in ESL, I thought that I might do some tutoring during the summer. I met with the volunteer coordinator and learned that an area of great need was for mentors within the refugee services program. Fort Worth resettles a large number of refugees from countries including Burma, Nepal, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, and Congo. Refugee services are partially funded through a match-grant program that pairs refugees with mentors. My husband and I were soon paired with a Congolese family that had recently arrived in Fort Worth. We met each other for the first time later that summer in their new home at Ladera Palms Apartments. Although our conversation was initially quite limited due to the language barrier, we soon developed a friendship as we shared about our families and cultures.
My name is Janine and I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have been living and working in inner-city Memphis for the past year and I love it.
Growing up in a middle-class suburb of Philly and being raised by believing parents, I experienced the blessings of having a good education and of being challenged to follow Jesus’ leading. As a teenager, the Lord began directing me to people who had never heard the Gospel. He led me toward medical training so I could meet physical needs of the people I would be living among.
I’m convinced that what I’m doing is the right thing. This is what I’ve been taught and believed for over two decades; it’s finally time for me to practice what I’ve preached and prayed. I’m talking about relocating to the inner city Las Vegas neighborhood where I serve every week. My heart has been there, now it’s time to get fully immersed. Relocation may not be for everyone, but it’s for me.
A nurse learns to "never say never" when at 50+ her career path takes some interesting turns.
Three pioneers of CCHF discuss strategies for introducing and safeguarding high-quality health care in poor communities. (From the Archives)